The big players in the games industry can allow themselves a bit of self-indulgence from time to time, and this couldn’t be made any more obvious when being invited to a big hotel rented by Sony.
The Radisson hotel was located outside the business and public area of Gamescom.
It actually required a fair bit of walking through throngs of people at the Koelnmesse, being hit by the heat of the sun outside and then seated in over-climatized smaller conference rooms (at least the ones I’ve been in which made wearing a jacket a good idea in order not to freeze and get a cold).
The extravaganza of Sony’s presentations already showed in front of the big building with a fancy car promoting the upcoming PS4 racing game DriveClub.
After being shown the way at the small registration desk in the entrance hall…
… one had to wait a while before being allowed in to the individual screenings. Unfortunately, Sony didn’t manage to keep track of their own show times, which often led to obvious confusion when people were waiting in front of a room where another game was presented than the one they had registered for. This of course was made even more aggravating by the fact that it already took quite some time walking from one press appointment in the business area to the hotel. I therefore could only make two appointments, one of which wasn’t really what I was planning to see…
Instead of The Puppeteer (which would be presented in the public area anyway), and despite the craze about next-gen, a swansong of a classic franchise for the PS3 by Polyphony Digital was shown.
Gran Turismo 6
(Japan 2013, developer: Polyphony Digital, publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment, platform: PS3)
Yes, I have to admit that I’ve never been a great simulation racing fan and would prefer to keep things more arcade-like. Still, it has to be said that the way the intro of Gran Turismo showed cars from every angle with an orchestra playing (and afterwards turning more alternative rock-style), had something going for it. This attention to detail also showed in how the PR went through the presentation with a checklist and a clear vision of glorifying these cars and companies who build them.
The way how the game was presented without any humor might also reflect the seriousness of the overall game series which despite its great graphics and convincing sound effects didn’t win me over, although it was a sight to behold so many people playing simultaneously in front of big screens, a clear indication that Sony pulled out the big PR guns for this presentation.
Still, talking to other games journalists also revealed the staleness and tiredness of the same old formula. An interesting side note: Being questioned about why the game didn’t have 60fps or moved to next gen, the answer was simply that the game didn’t need this and was perfect the way it was. A bit of over-confidence here?
In contrast to this presentation, the other screening was much more enjoyable and it was a game I was personally more interested in (and which would later lead me to actually buy the console for). Media Molecule is maybe best known for its play-share editor-platform franchise Little Big Planet, but with the PS Vita-exclusive Tearaway, they moved in a more interesting storytelling direction.
(UK 2013, developer: Media Molecule, publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, platform: PS Vita)
I’ve never been much into user-created content games like the Little Big Planet series, mainly because they lacked a coherent story and/or goal to work/play towards. With Tearaway, Media Molecule finally managed to present a game which invited playfulness but also had a more structured approach to level design. In addition, it simply looked wonderful with its paper-cut world, and the best thing: it made the use of the PS Vita’s touch controls feel more like an integral part of game design than a simple gimmick, illustrated by the way one could design parts of the environment, in this case cutting out stars in the form and color of one’s choosing.
In fact, the whole presentation was a joy to watch, as the Media Molecule people showed their enthusiasm with jokes and humble comments about their game philosophy, raising a smile on even the most critical of faces. This could be see in the protagonist’s face as well, being decorated with individual stickers, as in the Little Big Planet series.
It’s interesting to note that after its release, now over a year ago, Tearaway will live again in the form of Tearaway Unfolded for the PS4, showing that indie games are still very important for Sony.
This became abundantly clear when one stepped outside the confined spaces of press conference rooms and into an almost inconspicious show room where one could actually play lots of indies for oneself.
But not only the PS Vita had its fair share of indie titles, already available on PC…
…or other quirky titles.
The PS4 was ready to party with indies as well, as these titles showed:
Sony was certainly proud of their newest baby when it was shown in the glass case.
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